Yana, a Russian exile in Paris: ‘Russia’s destiny is everyone’s business’

© David Rich, France 24/France Médias Monde graphics studio

Arrested during a protest against the war in Ukraine in March 2022, Yana, a 35-year-old Russian executive, decided to flee her home town of Moscow. Since her arrival in Paris in June, she has been trying to deal with the administration involved in moving country, while sharing the message of critics of Vladimir Putin's regime.

In the halls of Sciences Po, situated in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés neighbourhood, Yana is adapting to her new environment. "It is a great school, I'm lucky to be able to study here. They are used to foreigners; I even have a tutor who helps me with the administrative procedures. On the other hand, I'm going to have to get used to it in terms of language because my English is far from perfect," she says with a nervous laugh.

The young Russian exiled in Paris began a masters programme in urban planning at the prestigious Parisian school with hopes that it would allow her to stabilise her uncertain situation in France.

Arrested for protesting

On March 6, 2022, two weeks after the beginning of Vladimir Putin's "special operation", several protests against the war in Ukraine took place across Russia. Yana decided to join one of the demonstrations on Komsomolskaya Square, in the centre of Moscow.

Temporarily housed in a social hotel with her daughter, Yana is now waiting for an answer to obtain refugee status. She intends to stay in France while continuing her activism, convinced that "another Russia" is possible.

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